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Online Mentoring Project

The Online Mentoring Project is an NSF funded Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) project. Its goal is to create a dynamic online environment for elementary, middle, and high school pre-service teachers to mentor students in mathematics through the Math Forum's Problem of the Week (PoW) environment. This is a unique opportunity for pre-service teachers to focus on how students think about math before they face the complexities of the classroom.

The Online Mentoring Guide (OMG) is a curriculum tool that currently exists in the WebCT platform. It provides a self-guided instructional system allowing pre-service teachers to learn how to mentor students in the Math Forum's PoW environment. It also creates a dynamic interactive space where pre-service teachers first try to solve a problem and explain their solution, and then mentor some of their colleagues' solutions. The guide then moves to a broader discussion of mentoring, encouraging the pre-service teacher to enter into the discussion. Finally pre-service teachers conclude their instruction by mentoring PoW submissions.

The OMG is an asynchronous unit. Faculty members can decide how much or how little class time will be devoted to the work with the OMG. It can be used in as few as three weeks or all semester long. Typically the training is done over two weeks. The live mentoring is a two week commitment.

Some specific benefits include:

  • The Online Mentoring Guide allows a real-world experience for college and graduate students without leaving the classroom.
  • It is a dynamic online curriculum unit that leads to mentoring actual students solving real challenge problems in an asynchronous environment.
  • Pre-service teachers learn to mentor by interacting with each other online.
  • Pre-service teachers learn how to use a rubric for assessment.
  • Pre-service teachers are exposed to a diverse group of young problem solvers.
  • Pre-service teachers improve their writing and communication skills.
  • The OMG provides a comfortable environment within which to learn mathematics.
  • Pre-service teachers develop facility with online learning tools and online interactions.
  • University faculty can assess their pre-service teachers' mathematical thinking and mentoring interactions.
  • The collaborative online environment of the OMG increases insight into problem solving and how students think about mathematics.

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